Magic lantern

Magic Lanterns

Now there's a very long case dedicated to the Magic Lantern. If you start at the extreme left, there's a very early book- the English translation of a book- by Porta (Magia Naturalis) which describes the camera obscura for the first time; a black box in which artists could see a picture- Vermeer perhaps most famously. And below that, an even earlier book because it's the Latin original, is by Athanasius Kircher and that shows illustrations of the magic lantern- the first known illustrations, although the artist clearly didn't have a clue how it operated because they are in fact not correctly portrayed at all. A Magic Lantern is sort of lost in the mists of time but there's a great number in the case and a great number of slides. The ones that particularly interested Bill and I were the Magic Lantern slides that moved- that caused an image to move on the screen. This was the first form of projection, shall we say. There were rotary slides, there were lever slides and slipping slides. A lot of them were humorous so that you saw a man and the lanternist would slide out the extra piece of glass and his nose would grow to some extortionate length. Later, cheaper lithographic slides were produced and you'll see a set of 'Alice in Wonderland' and even later still in fact right up to the 1930s, there's a 'Mickey Mouse' lantern box with original Disney slides. So the Magic Lantern really overlaps with cinema and, indeed, I can remember going to the cinema in my youth when, in the interval, they used Magic Lantern slides to show you what was coming next week. 

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum
  1. Shadow Theatre
  2. Ombrascopes
  3. Paris Chat Noir
  4. Introduction to Panorama
  5. Diorama and the Dissolve Effect
  6. Protean Views
  7. Optical Toys
  8. Praxinoscope Theatre
  9. Magic Lanterns
  10. Edison and Dickson: Kinetoscope and Mutoscope
  11. Lumière Cinématographe
  12. Robert Paul: Moving Pictures
  13. Hepworth's Animated Photography